In fact, Shirley’s happy to tell the world that she “feels so young”.
“I don’t in any way feel that I am the age I’m told I am,” she joked.
“I think someone put the wrong date on my birth certificate.
“I’m sure I’m younger than the official version. There’s definitely been a mix-up somewhere.
“I feel 50 years younger than that. How I look is up to how other people see me, but I know how I feel.”
It’s almost unbelievable that Dame Shirley Bassey really was born in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, all those years ago.
“I’ve always tried to take care of myself,” she said.
“It’s not always easy when you’re younger because you spend an awful lot of time on the road, in and out of hotels, going to events and receptions.
“It’s exhausting and can make you snack a lot and have little time for exercise.
“It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself with your diet and health.
“I have always been a bit level-headed in that department and I have worked out for years.
“I don’t believe in punishing yourself, but regular routines are great and refreshing.
“I’m still into yoga, pilates and gym sessions that don’t have me dragged off in an ambulance.
“I don’t overdo the eating either. Remember I was brought up in lovely Tiger Bay, where home cooking and simple diets were the general rule.
“I really enjoy cooking and while I venture into the exotic now and then, I still like basic stuff.
“I don’t throw big dinner parties or anything like that. It would scare me too much to cook for a lot of people.
“I’d be a nervous wreck if I served my guests with something I’d cooked.”
Shirley admits she’s her own worst critic.
“I really am,” she nodded. “Do you know that I’ve been associated with Goldfinger for around 50 years and I’m always asked to sing it, but it’s also haunted me as I know there were a couple of notes not quite right in it.
“Every time I hear it, I notice it. Those notes are the part of the song I hear more than anything else and while other people say that I’m the only one who notices, it gets to me.
“Maybe I ought to re-record it!”
Perhaps that’s the secret of Dame Shirley’s international stardom.
She is a perfectionist. Her performance has to be the best she can give. Her gowns have to be the best and she insists on everything being absolutely right.
“I’ve always been my own boss and expect the very best,” she said.
“It’s funny to look back at my teens and leaving school with people advising me what I should do.
“I think I knew I wanted to sing even then although I tried to convince myself I wanted to be an air hostess.
“I even thought of becoming a nurse until I realised that the sight of blood was not something I could get used to.
“Underneath the whole thing, I think I knew I wanted to sing, but resisted it.
“I would not admit to myself that a singing career was an option. I loved singing — I’m from Wales of course!
“When I was little, I hated the dark — I still do to be honest. If I woke up in the night, I used to sing to myself rather than cry.
“I’ve been singing since. I never thought about becoming professional, though. I never had singing lessons.
“I suppose I’ve had a glamorous image for some time, which is not bad considering that one of my first ever jobs was working in a sausage factory!
“That was fun for me, though, as it had its own social club and, every Thursday, I used to enjoy dancing or even a game of darts.
“I was happy and to help put some extra money into the family purse, I sang in pubs and other social clubs.
“I loved it, but I didn’t take it seriously until someone suddenly offered me a contract.
“When something like that happens to you, your feet are swept away and you’re carried along.
“I had to leave my friends and my family and enter a different world.
“That world has been fantastic, but I can’t say it’s ever given me the simple happiness I had in my teens.
“That sounds ungrateful and I’m not unhappy, it’s just not the same.”
Shirley spends her time either in Monaco or in London, but she has never forgotten her roots.
In fact, her Christmas recording with Blake — a version of Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire — saw her royalties donated to the Noah’s Ark charity of Cardiff.
“I’ve never forgotten where I came from, but show business does have a habit of owning you,” she admitted.
“I don’t think I’d like to be starting out now. When I was singing Big Spender, the performance had to be outstanding for all the right reasons.
“Yes, the gowns had to be sexy, but not like the girls wear today.
“Some wear virtually nothing and show far too much. The class is in what you don’t show, not in what you do show.”
So, are we going to see Shirley back on stage soon?
“I haven’t retired, that’s for sure,” she said. “I have a lot of life in me yet, but I am selective and I don’t see myself doing 50-date tours.
“That doesn’t mean that I won’t be back on stage, though.
“I still love the performance, that will never change.
“I still have a lot of fans out there who are just brilliant. I am sure we shall be meeting again before long.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe